I’ve reached the big five-oh! No, I’m not turning fifty, but I have read 50 books in five months.
For 2019, I set a lofty goal for my Goodreads Reading Challenge: 100 books. I’ve never read that many books in one year before. The most I’ve done is 70 books, and that was back in 2014. I was still in grad school, and that included some of the books I read for my graduate work.
I’m tracking this endeavor with my own hashtag, #emilys100books2019, on Twitter and Instagram. It’s been a good way to hold myself accountable and it’s started some interesting conversations too!
Why did I want to read 100 books?
I’d feel foolish if I said, “no reason!” But I don’t have a compelling reason. I wanted to set an ambitious goal, something that sounded crazy. People are shocked when I tell them I’m reading 100 books this year! They laugh nervously, like they’ve encountered a true lunatic. That’s almost part of the fun of it.
I wanted to see if I could do it. I know I can. I’m already halfway there!
I also hypothesized that this would push me to branch outside the realm of what I usually read, incorporating different genres, like poetry and graphic novels. So far, so good!
What have I been reading?
You can view what I’ve read so far here. It has definitely been a wide variety of things!
FYI: the links to books below are affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase one of them through my link , I will earn a small commission.
In January, I read the Saga graphic novels by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. As a result, that month ended up being my highest read count, clocking in at 19 books! Six of those are Saga. I was off to an aggressive start for the year.
I read nine books in February, and five of them were by Black authors in honor of Black History Month. My Black History Month reads were excellent. If you’re curious:
How Long Til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Go Ahead in the Rain by Hanif Abdurraqib
Arrival by Cheryl Boyce-Taylor
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
I didn’t go as hard on a theme for March, but I did still strive to read women authors for Women’s History Month. I totaled nine books, six of which were by women:
Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim (out June 11 from Penguin/Berkley)
The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
The Blurry Years by Eleanor Kriseman
I’m Trying to Reach You by Barbara Browning
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
WorkParty by Jaclyn Johnson
And here we are in May! This month I’ve read memoir, a YA romcom, more memoir, comedy, a nonfiction deep dive into poverty, and an essay collection.
How am I doing it?
I’m used to reading a lot. I consider it my primary hobby, and a way to relax. It’s not work to me.
That being said, I do spend a LOT of time reading. Most nights, my husband and I make dinner, walk the dogs, and are ready to relax by 8:45 or 9pm. I usually spend one to two hours reading in my comfy chair each evening. It’s a lot, I know! I don’t watch much TV. When we binge a show, that means in two or three weeks we finish one season of a show with about ten 20 minute episodes. We manage to watch one 20 minute show most nights, but almost never do we go crazy and watch two episodes in one night.
I tend to read on my lunch breaks, and I always keep a book in my purse. If someone is late to a meeting or I’m in the waiting room at a doctor’s office, I’m reading.
I’m not much of an audiobook listener, but I know some people are avid fans. Definitely an option to consider if you’re striving to read more!
What have I learned so far?
Well, first of all, I am unlikely to do a reading challenge of this size again! I’m racing through books rather than savoring them. I don’t think the quality of books I’m reading has been impacted by reading a higher quantity, but reading does feel more rushed now.
Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned after reading 50 books in five months:
I’m not processing books as much.
I’m so eager to move on to the next book that I don’t sit with books long enough to appreciate them fully. It’s not ideal. On the flip side, though, I am making some interesting connections across books. For example, Ninety Feet Under, a look at the psychological impacts of poverty, had some interesting implications that applied to Heavy by Kiese Laymon.
Engaging on social media helps me remember books.
With every book I read, I share on Twitter and my Instagram Story when I’m about halfway through. Then I post on my Instagram feed when I finish the book with some thoughts about it. I also review it on Goodreads and share the book on Facebook. It helps me retain things a bit better. It’s also been useful for starting conversations with friends and strangers about what I’m reading.
Reading outside your niche is totally worth it.
I often read dark, heavy, disturbing books. For some reason, I love them. But reading fun and happy books is pretty wonderful too! When Dimple Met Rishi was a fun, adorable read about two Indian kids falling in love at a web development summer camp. Red, White and Royal Blue was an incredibly joyful romcom where the Prince of England falls in love with the First Son of the U.S. Each of these was a blast to read. I’ve been so hung up on twisty, weird books that I forgot there’s a reason people read books with happy endings!
Picking a theme for the month is fun and valuable.
Black History Month was one of my favorite months of reading this year. I thoroughly enjoyed each read I picked, and felt a little more focused for the month. I wouldn’t do a theme for every month because it gets cumbersome, and I don’t want to stop myself from reading something I really want to read, but every couple months I intend to pursue a new theme. My next one will be books by LGBTQIA+ authors for Pride Month in June.
Wish me luck as I read 50 more books in the next 7 months! If you need a recommendation, don’t hesitate to ask. Just tweet me at @servemethesky 😊